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San Francisco’s Rice Rockettes Turn Dance into Drag

More sass, puns, and ballads; less high kicking.


Kristi Yummy Kochi 

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Tita Aida

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Chi-Chi Kago

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Brenda Dong

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Panda Dulce

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Imelda Glucose

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Estée Longah

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Doncha Vishyuwuzme

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See all the Affinities here.

On a recent night in the Castro, Estée Longah donned a “big ol’ hairdo” and a red pageant dress and commanded the stage in a performance of Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts.” It was an all-Beyoncé lineup, starring members of the Rice Rockettes, San Francisco’s only all–Asian and Pacific Islander drag troupe. Formed in 2009, the group was an answer to a perceived lack of representation within the drag community. “We wanted to bring our own stories and art onto the stage,” she says. “And we felt more empowered doing so when we created those spaces for ourselves.”

The troupe puts on a themed show every second Thursday of the month at the Castro bar Lookout. “We try to be very current,” Longah says. Their November show fell three days after the Trumpocalypse: “We managed to turn a Britney-and-Christina night into a very political night with everyone doing numbers about the election.”

Even in dark days, the Rice Rockettes keep their sense of humor. In a December 2016 Facebook post, they reminded everyone that, no, they were not the Rockettes booked at the inauguration, “just to be clear.”


Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco 

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